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‘Excuse Note from Mammy’ … Coillte CEO

Friday 12th September 2014

In a previous blog we wrote that Coillte’s acting boss, Gerry Britchfield, was reluctant to tell his superiors in government, the Dept. of Agriculture, how much he was paid. That was according to an Irish Independent story during the week, (@shanephelanindo).  Mr Britchfield even took legal advice that suggested to him that he didn’t have to reveal his salary – despite the fact that he’s paid from the public purse – and despite the public purse having paid for the legal advice.
Today in the Irish Times we see that the acting CEO’s job at Coillte is advertised with a remuneration that it says ‘will be in line with Public Sector guidelines’.  This is not a hard figure. On the same  job ad pages there is a job as Director of Communications at Solas, the ‘artists’ formerly known as FAS. Solas has no problem telling us that the salary scale for its job is that of ‘…Principal Officer in the Civil Service’. That may not be an actual figure either but it’s one that is easily found.
It’s an intriguing thought as to whether Mr. Britchfield, if he’s applying for the job, will state his current salary in his application, or will he plead the 5th , following ‘advice from lawyers’, or maybe he has an excuse note from his mammy.
This lack of transparency causes huge resentment. We can all imagine that the other man’s grass is greener, even though, or because, we can’t see it. Small and medium enterprises are rightly suspicious of how much money senior managers in some areas of the public sector are paid, because for reasons that ISME and any other right thinking members of the community, cannot understand it is not published.
When information is not available it makes people rightly suspicious – in this case suspicious that small business owners are working their rear ends off, just keeping the wolf from the door, while others who do not have the same perceived commercial pressures, working within the sheltered State sector, are living off the fat of the land. It is, after all, SME taxes in the main, that keep the monthly salary cheques going out to senior State employees.
Thankfully nowadays politicians have to declare their incomes, from all sources, on a register of interests.  In the coming budget, to help with the recovery and working towards a fairer Ireland, ISME wants a declaration from the Minister for Finance that all senior State employees will have to make a similar declaration about their State incomes. No exceptions and no ‘excuse notes’ from their mammies or their lawyers.